The economic conditions of Russians in the 1990s was seldom considered news after the end of the Cold War and the triumphalism that greeted the demise of the Evil Empire in the West.
Partly because Putin has now thwarted Western investors ripping of Russian assets, some $300 billion in the Yeltsin era, and for removing the pro-Western oligarchs like Berezovsky and Khodorkovsy from power.
That is bad news for an energy hungry West that wanted Russia as a semi-colonised outpost of Western influence and to be able to control the oil and gas of the 'the stans'. Which is why Zbigniew Brzezinski referred to it in the Grand Chessboard in chapter Two as 'The Black Hole'.
So the media propaganda in the Western NGOs and think tanks grind out petty screeds parrotting in shrill tones the same line that Putin is a Stalinist dictator, the "Russian attack on Georgia" in 2008 and, the key cliche, "a resurgent Russia".
However, the real emphasis should be put not on the respective merits of the Soviet Union as against Yeltsin's Russia, though the changes were obviously considerable and of huge geopolitical significance. Either-or dichotomies appeal only to witless ideologues.
The stress should be on the continuities, what Tony Judt calls in his Reappraisals 'the forgotten twentieth century'.
There are plenty of studies about the scale of the unnecessary suffering caused to Russia after 1991 through the imposition of IMF 'shock therapy' .
Robert Service's Russia: Experiment with a People deals with it as does Glinka and Reddaway's Market Bolshevism: The Tragedy of Russia's Market Reforms are examples.
The scale of the deaths caused by "shock therapy" are not comparable with Soviet Communism at the peak of its power with Lenin's Red Terror, the forceable collectivisation of the 1930s, the Terror Famine and Stalin's Great Terror of 1936-38.
Yet that is hardly any reason to belittle the drop of life expectancy for makes from 55 to 68 or the way 'reforms' and price liberalition wiped out the value of savings and pensions overnight and the reduction of most Russian's to insecurity, crime, alcoholism and prostitution.
It was the scale of Russia's immiseration and fall into anarcho-capitalism that led moral prophets and anti-Soviet dissidents like Alexander Solzhenitsyn to turn more thoroughly against the West.
This was something that most displeased those like Timothy Garton Ash and Anne Applebaum.
Needless to say, neither of these two bien pensants as liberal anti-communists had actually lived in the Gulag and though Applebaum wrote a magnificently researched work on the Soviet camp network, the postscript drew many wrong and hypocritical moral lessons.
Instead of condemning shock therapy, all mention of the way Washington Consensus and the IMF and World Bank had imposed such badly conceived reforms on Russia was airbrushed out of history.
The reason is that Applebaum works for The Economist as does Edward Lucas who also crudely portrays Russia as a Neo-Soviet threat in his blatant work of propaganda The New Cold War Like Bill Emmot, its editor, they were tub thumpers for the IMF neoliberal reforms.
As John Gray wrote in 2003 of Emmot's vision as set forth in works like 20/21 Vision,
.....it contains no discussion - indeed, no mention - of the costs and failures of the transition to free markets in post- communist countries.
If you look for the names of Gorbachev or Yeltsin in the index, you will find nothing. Like Trotsky during the Soviet period, they have been airbrushed out of history.
It is as if the tragicomic history of post-communist Russia - the catastrophic drop in population and living standards, the crime-based anarcho-capitalism of the Yeltsin era and the emergence of a subtle form of authoritarian rule under Vladimir Putin - had never occurred.
In consigning the failures of Russian market reform to an Orwellian memory hole, Emmott shows he has something in common with western defenders of the Soviet Union. Like them, he is cavalier in his attitude to the human casualties of economic development.
To pass over the failed transition to a western-style market economy in Russia in silence is a grotesque omission. It suggests an inability to learn from the past - an unfortunate feature in a book that claims to draw on the lessons of the 20th century.
Such a blank denial of history is a common failing of ideologues, and it has been particularly conspicuous among market liberals over the past decade.The same organisation that carried out the meticulous study of the scale of casualties in Iraq caused by the US invasion after 2003, the medical journal Lancet, carried out a study, on the scale of the deaths caused by shock therapy
Old-style Trotskyists refuse to admit that the failures of existing socialist regimes in any way undermine Marxism: if the Soviet system caused the deaths of millions of people, that only shows it was not really socialist.
In exactly the same way if, in Argentina, neoliberal policies have turned a rich first-world country into an impoverished chaos, for neoliberals, that can only mean free-market policies simply were not implemented consistently enough.
The study by David Stuckler from Oxford, and colleagues Dr Lawrence King from Cambridge University and Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was generally ignored
As many as one million working-age men died due to the economic shock of mass privatisation policies followed by post-communist countries in the 1990s, according to a new study published in The Lancet in 2009
Not by Jeffrey Sachs though who fulminated against in the FT by blaming the deaths not on shock therapy but on the Soviet habit of eating fried food which all of a sudden caused a delayed effect of then just suddely having heart attacks after 1991.
The Oxford-led study measured the relationship between death rates and the pace and scale of privatisation in 25 countries in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, dating back to the early 1990s. They found that mass privatisation came at a human cost: with an average surge in the number of deaths of 13 per cent or the equivalent of about one million lives.
During the 1990s, former communist countries underwent the world’s worst peacetime mortality crisis in the past 50 years – with over three million avoidable deaths and 10 million ‘missing’ men, according to the United Nations.There were, large differences netween ex-Soviet nations which lost millions and former communist nations like Slovenia though, so the study was flawed in my view for not concentrating on what is really "Eastern Europe" as opposed to Central Europe ( Poland, Hungary et al ).
John Gray, a staunch anti-communist, was as scathing of neoliberal Utopianism as both it and Bolshevism were two rationalistic Utopian peas from the same progressive pod which tried to use authoritarian means to force Russia to be 'Western'
Gray wrote in the New Statesman in 2002,
Russia as we know it today is a product of two experiments in westernisation, one imposed by Lenin, and the second by the market Leninists who ruled the country during the ill-fated years of neoliberal "shock therapy".
Both were disastrous. In the wake of these failed attempts to achieve modernity by blindly following western models, Russia is returning to its pre-communist, Eurasian past.
The government of Boris Yeltsin was one of a long line of westernising regimes that have sought to make Russia an unequivocally European country.History returned with the end of ideological divides of the Cold War, a lesson that has been learnt by Russia far more than it has is the whooping, hubristic and uncritically ideological outlook of Anglo-American neoliberals.
Like Lenin's Bolsheviks, the market liberals of the Yeltsin era tried to reshape the country in accordance with what they perceived as the most progressive current in European thought.
The Yeltsin era saw a rerun of the Bolsheviks' forced modernisation from above, but this time the western model was American, not European, and it demanded the creation of free markets rather than central planning.
As in the past, Russia's westernising elites were keen to implement what they took to be the most advanced ideas.
Western opinion had changed from the time when Sidney and Beatrice Webb had written of Stalinist Russia as the embryo of a new world civilisation; but the conventional wisdom had not become any wiser.
It still insisted that the only possible future for Russia was for her to remake herself on a western model, and it continued to approach this prospect with missionary zeal.
Just as in the 1930s, a stream of political pilgrims flowed from west to east - not, this time, the communists and fellow-travellers who lauded Soviet achievements while millions starved, but instead a motley band of international civil servants, investment bankers and tacky think-tank operators.
They all preached the gospel of the free market as the Russian economy spiralled into one of the greatest depressions of the 20th century.
Millions of people did not die of starvation as they had during the Stalinist experiment, but a large part of the population was entombed in hopeless poverty. As in the past, millions survived on the output of private, peasant-style plots.